Erica Jong Wonders If Oprah is “A Professional Negro”

by Latoya Peterson

erica jongWednesday, tetetotete sent in a Twitter message saying:

erica jong done lost her damn mind. On Oprah”you never felt that oprah was a professional negro” #dasracist

She was referring to Jong’s newest blog post for the Huffington Post, called “Oprah, Kitty and Me.” Jong was apparently writing about Oprah’s shift from a publicly accessible person to a private one, but raised eyebrows when she said:

But Oprah seems to have gotten more mistrustful with fame, not less. And she seems to have gotten more race conscious than she was when she was younger. You never felt that Oprah was a professional Negro. She seemed totally unaware of race — but what do I know about being black? It’s not like being Jewish with a Chinese nom de plume.

I believe that racism is far from extinguished in the world — despite the celebration that greeted the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Racism lurks in our country and all over the world. But people who have transcended prejudice have a special obligation not to carry grudges. After all, grudges hurt the grudge-holder most. We also have a responsibility to set a good example by not holding grudgers.

In the comments section to the post, she clarified:

A professional negro is the same as a professional Jew–a person who thinks he has cornered the market on victimhood. I meant it in jest. And said ms. O was not one.

As Carmen Dixon writes for AOL Black Voices:

“Transcended prejudice”? I’ve never met or heard of a person who has achieved that. Further, Jong implies that black grievance’ is merely a “grudge.” And with that characterization, Jong minimizes the real, often life-and-death concerns of an entire group of people.